IT'S A DEAL THE Warriors would regret, despite the star power they would receive, yet it clings to life even after Don Nelson's clever and highly visible attempt to blow it up.
To read Nelson's lips, though, is to realize he did not snuff out the integrity of reports stating he wanted to acquire Amare Stoudemire. Nor did the coach say anything about the Warriors ending their pursuit of Phoenix's power forward.
Nelson merely said Stephen Curry is not going anywhere.
So there is plenty of space for another deal, like the reported swap in which the Warriors send Andris Biedrins, Brandan Wright and Marco Belinelli to the Suns for Stoudemire.
One of the league's true specimens, Stoudemire is a 6-foot-10, 250-pound manchild who can hang in the paint with anyone. How easy it is for Warriors fan to visualize Stoudemire doing his thing here, swooping in for rebounds, soaring above the flock for dunks and draining midrange jumpers.
To consider the memories of all those nights when the Warriors were helpless against Stoudemire is to embrace the concept of bringing him to Oakland.
But that's history. The Stoudemire who would join the Warriors is not the four-time NBA All-Star who has spent years tormenting them.
Stoudemire's prime is behind him. Not because he's old; he's only 26. Nor is it the mileage.
It's the troubling medical history.
Stoudemire is four months removed from surgery to repair a detached retina in his right eye. He is eight months removed from a partially torn right iris. He is 20 months removed from having arthroscopic surgery on his right knee. He is 44 months removed from having the dreaded microfracture surgery on his left knee.
If Stoudemire were a truck, his Carfax report would print out on red paper — in all caps.
Stoudemire says he plans to wear goggles on the court. He said the same thing after being poked in the eye last October, only to toss the goggles after two weeks because sweat would accumulate, blurring his vision.
The knees, however, represent the biggest, brightest red flags. Common sense would accept that the left knee, in particular, would inhibit any chance of Stoudemire being the explosive, dynamic athlete he was pre-surgery and over the long term. That's important insofar as the Warriors likely won't make any megadeal unless they have assurances of signing a five-year extension that would make Stoudemire their highest-paid player.
Microfracture surgery diminishes everyone who has it. It killed the careers of Jamal Mashburn, Terrell Brandon and, eventually, Penny Hardaway and Allan Houston. Chris Webber was never the same, neither was Antonio McDyess or Kenyon Martin. The jury is still out on Tracy McGrady.
The best recoveries were made by Jason Kidd, for whom age is a factor, and Stoudemire, for whom sheer size likely will become a factor.
NBA executives, in their search to make an impact move, take two kinds of risks. There is the calculated risk, in which all conceivable scenarios are considered. And there are irrational risks, in which an itch is scratched.
You be the judge.
If only Stoudemire's physical past were the only matter of concern. It's not.
Even if he were more comfortable wearing goggles the second time around and played at 90 percent of what he was at his peak, Stoudemire still would not give the Warriors the most essential element of a successful team.
He's a No. 2, someone who at his best plays off a No. 1, a star who is equally adept at setting up teammates and producing offense on his own. A leader. Though Stephen Jackson does it in spurts, no current Warrior is established as The Man.
Nelson would like Monta Ellis to fill it, but there is no sign he's a natural playmaker/alpha dog. Curry has not played a minute in the NBA. The template is Steve Nash, who in Phoenix was John Stockton to Stoudemire's Karl Malone.
The Warriors don't have a Stockton, a Nash or a Baron Davis. General manager Larry Riley, with some prodding, concedes there is a leadership void in Davis' wake.
If Stoudemire were capable of filling that void, a trade would be far more tempting. That he is not is one more reason the idea of acquiring him is more appealing in theory than in reality.
Contact Monte Poole at firstname.lastname@example.org.